Religion & Women- A Brief Look

Now a days we hear a lot the phrase ‘war on women’.  It has become such a common phrase to hear, that one can’t help but worry.  I understand that times have changed and that news is delivered seconds after it happens, that social media has made sharing information so much more accessible, and that we absorb the good and the bad that much more easily as well.

I can’t help but wonder what the root of this epidemic, this misogyny that seems to spread like lit matches causing massive fires since we are not going to the root of the problem.  I don’t claim to be an expert but an observer.  Like all humans I have the capability to see a problem and render a solution. Whether this solution is a feasible one up to debate, but it should done by the parties who would be involved… that seems to be the biggest problem.  Here in the western world we come off as the leaders in modernity, the ones who try and qualm those forest fires around the world, but it’s done in an ethnocentric way.  Giving a solution to a problem to a person or group of people is a delicate matter.  Here is an example:

India has a problem with hunger, but one cannot go and simply say that because they have abundance in cattle that they should just eat them.  That is an absurd suggestion for the mere fact that to them the cow is a holy animal.  Now if you look at it historically this wasn’t  always the case, during Vedic times whey slaughtered and consumed cows (if you are interested in more, read on Marvin Harris and the Sacred Cow).  India a one of the few places that still has a wide range of plants growing, and if we were to look at their agrobiodiveristy one could try and understand what is going on that they are not using it to their advantage.  This is just one of the examples of what I mean by really digging deep into the root and trying to understand a culture and bring about solutions that are within their means.

Now, when it comes to women it is a bit more difficult to try and generalize it so boldly, for one, women encompass the entire world, there are more women than men, and we humans characterize each other through many different facets.

But I would like to touch on at least one of these facets, and that would be religion.  Understandably there are several religions, and beliefs.  It is one of the things at many of us hold as a corner stone in our lives.  When you are taken to the hospital and are in a dire situation they will ask what your religion/believe is, it is an integral part of many of our lives.

When taking a glance at the kind of violence that seems to consume women it seems that there is a strong correlation between Abrahamic religions and women who live in a society/country that places heavy enforcement on it through laws, and other everyday life.   Abrahamic religions are considered to be those that are monotheistic and derive from Abraham; Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Bahai Faith.

Here in the U.S we have affectionately called the southeastern and south-central region, the Bible belt.  These areas tend to be mostly conservative and apply much of their faith to everyday life.  Just recently Texas GOP lawmaker stated that rape kits can give abortions.  If you are a female and this doesn’t get you fuming, then start thinking about exactly what that sentence has placed together.  The battle to have regulate women’s bodies has been a hot issue since men realized they  couldn’t push a button and make us do as they please (once again, I am not referring to all men, but those extreme conservatives, ‘take word for word of the Bible as is’ men).   This is just one way modern society here is trying to regulate women, to under value our individual right as humans.   The constant attempts to have women forgo their reproductive rights is something that might seem as harmless to many, until you are faced with a that wall when you are in need to stretch and practice those rights.

Saudi Arabi is still a country that does not allow women to vote.  It is 2013, we have successfully been able to grow ears on the backs of mice and women in Saudi Arabia have yet been allowed to do what is only inherently human- and that is to voice their opinion as an equal, because that is what we are.  This is a country with deep religious ties, where hours are put aside during the day and pray.  It is a place where women are still restricted in their form of dress, as if temptation itself were to be possessed over men if they should catch a glimpse of their wrists.

In the Middle East women are stoned, bartered at a young age for marrige, and sold.  Women are not the equal of men.  It is stated in much of the Bible’s Old Testament that the man is the head and that women are to be submissive. That men should love their wife’s as they would love themselves, but it never says as their equal.  Abrahamic religions set women aside in many ways; women are the ones who were blamed for the fall from Paradise, coerced man to bite into the forbidden fruit, we are cunning, and dirty.  Orthodox Jews do not come in contact with women when they are menstruating for the they are unclean.  In Islamic religion women are covered up, and only given a couple of inches to see the world.  Why should women’s bodies be something that brings shame?  Why is it that there is such a need to have women treated as property and not as an equal of society who is entitled to her own views, actions, and body?

Religion has long been the scapegoat for wars, and now it is also the scapegoat for the treatment of women.  To regulate women, and put them in an enclosed sphere where they are not seen as one anothers equal.   It is somewhat clear that there seems to be a fear about women with these religions.  Why the need to have them encapsulated into such definite positions?  Why the need to cut a woman’s clitoris and sew them up?  Why is there that need to restrict the pleasure of a woman?

The Dalai Lama said something that was very poignant in regarding religion and our current state;

All the world’s major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness can and do promote inner values.  But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate.  This is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether.

We are becoming a world where the more educated we become, the more tolerant we seem to be.  Lack of information drives human to fear that which is unknown to them, to see it as evil, or foreign- this is all evident through mankind’s literary works and even now.  It is of the utmost importance to bring to light that women are no more different than man.

Just a little fact here if you are so inclined:

Did you know that we all start out in our early developmental states (while still in the womb) as female?  The embryo may have inherited the needed XY chromosomes to genetically render it a male, but it is the chemical timing and release of hormones at an essential developmental stage that will conclusively project this outwardly.

I apologize if I was all not as structured as I would have liked it to have been.

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What’s to Come- Get Ready.

I know it has been a long time since I have posted anything here. But to me, this blog is very close to my heart; it is the place where I can share my thoughts on humanity how we may better it, scientific breakthroughs, and important current affairs that need to be re-looked at from a different perspective.    In order to this, I research, I read, and I have to jot down all my thoughts and facts.  I don’t like to just form an opinion, I like to engage others to do so as well by looking at what I have found, and if you’re willing, bring a different point to the table.

So with that I want to say that I will be taking some real time to focus on the many topics that I have been working on put have not had the time to  properly post.

  • Violence on Women
  • Cultural difference in Communication
  • Education and Poverty

At the moment these are the topics I am tackling.  If you have any insight or thought on any of them, please feel free to drop me a line, a comment, or point of view.  I will post tomorrow.  Be ready, I am getting back on my bandwagon here!

 

Much Love,

Mariel

For the Love of Anthropology

I am in love, in absolute heaven.  The joy of finding your passion and having the opportunity of doing it is something that is just amazing.  I started my internship in a lab that deals mostly with molecular and human genetics.  I just graduated with my BA in Anthropology and before I get into grad school for physical anthropology I need to accumulate as much experience in the field, anywhere I can get it.  Since I am interested in population genetics this lab is a perfect fit.  It has published numerous papers in reputable journals, and has an exceptional DNA bank to carry out extensive work from.

Here is a brief synopsis of what the field of physical anthropology encompasses:

Biological anthropology (also known as bioanthropology and physical anthropology) is that branch of anthropology that studies the physical development of the human species. It plays an important part in paleoanthropology (the study of human origins) and in forensic anthropology (the analysis and identification of human remains for legal purposes). It draws upon human anthropometrics (body measurements), human genetics (molecular anthropology) and human osteology (the study of bones) and includes neuroanthropology, the study of human brain evolution, and of culture as neurological adaptation to environment.  (thanks Wikipedia!)

I am just learning the ropes, which is a slow and time consuming process both in and out of the lab for me (specially since my background in biology is very limited).  I have been given daily research articles to read; for both the purpose of learning and correcting any grammatical errors.

Right now I am absolutely fascinated with Haplogroups and mutations that can appear in each. Haplogroups are used to represent the major branch points on the mitochondrial phylogenetic tree. There are six major Haplogroups. Understanding the evolutionary path of the female lineage (which is done through the mtDNA- mitochondrial DNA) has helped population geneticists trace the matrilineal inheritance of modern humans back to human origins in Africa and the subsequent spread across the world.

This picture shows human migration based on mtDNA. Notice how it all starts in Africa and migrates all the way to South America.

Currently I am helping (very minimally, it’s more like learning) on the mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA is only passed through the female and of the Haitian population.  This research helps indentify the demographic makeup of Haitians.  The results so far from the mtDNA has helped shed light on the vast demographic makeup of Haiti .  The research shows that much of their population is descendant from Africa, but helps with identifying the regions within Africa; Northern, Eastern, or Western Africa.  Due to the salve trade and colonization of Haiti one would think that it would mostly have European, and West African Haplogroups present, but East Africa has shown as well ( a lot actually, L3).  This can only mean that migration occurred in Africa from East to West. This is all very fascinating!  I hope to catch up as quickly as I possibly and start on my own research soon… which they they have expressed I would eventually have to do (Exciting!!!)

When Did You Lose Your Moral?

When did you sell out?  Or better yet, when did you lose your moral sense of ethic, your conscious towards others, nature, and yourself?  I am proud to call myself an anthropologist.  We are the do-gooders, we see to educate and better humankind (and not through a bigger TV or appliance), but through education about ourselves, and our surroundings.  There are four sub-fields in anthropology and each one contributes to another applying it to everyday problems; i.e. diabetes, nutrition, etc.  We have a code of ethics which outlines our responsibilities to both the individuals studied and the scholarship and science.

 

A small part of our Code of Ethics of the American Anthropological Association:

 

1. Anthropological researchers have primary ethical obligations to the people, species, and materials they study and to the people with whom they work. These obligations can supersede the goal of seeking new knowledge, and can lead to decisions not to undertake or to discontinue a research project when the primary obligation conflicts with other responsibilities, such as those owed to sponsors or clients. These ethical obligations include:

To avoid harm or wrong, understanding that the development of knowledge can lead to change which may be positive or negative for the people or animals worked with or studied

To respect the well-being of humans and nonhuman primates

To work for the long-term conservation of the archaeological, fossil, and historical records

To consult actively with the affected individuals or group(s), with the goal of establishing a working relationship that can be beneficial to all parties involved

2. Anthropological researchers must do everything in their power to ensure that their research does not harm the safety, dignity, or privacy of the people with whom they work, conduct research, or perform other professional activities. Anthropological researchers working with animals must do everything in their power to ensure that the research does not harm the safety, psychological well-being or survival of the animals or species with which they work.

3. Anthropological researchers must determine in advance whether their hosts/providers of information wish to remain anonymous or receive recognition, and make every effort to comply with those wishes. Researchers must present to their research participants the possible impacts of the choices, and make clear that despite their best efforts, anonymity may be compromised or recognition fail to materialize.

4. Anthropological researchers should obtain in advance the informed consent of persons being studied, providing information, owning or controlling access to material being studied, or otherwise identified as having interests which might be impacted by the research. It is understood that the degree and breadth of informed consent required will depend on the nature of the project and may be affected by requirements of other codes, laws, and ethics of the country or community in which the research is pursued. Further, it is understood that the informed consent process is dynamic and continuous; the process should be initiated in the project design and continue through implementation by way of dialogue and negotiation with those studied. Researchers are responsible for identifying and complying with the various informed consent codes, laws and regulations affecting their projects. Informed consent, for the purposes of this code, does not necessarily imply or require a particular written or signed form. It is the quality of the consent, not the format, that is relevant.

5. Anthropological researchers who have developed close and enduring relationships (i.e., covenantal relationships) with either individual persons providing information or with hosts must adhere to the obligations of openness and informed consent, while carefully and respectfully negotiating the limits of the relationship.

6. While anthropologists may gain personally from their work, they must not exploit individuals, groups, animals, or cultural or biological materials. They should recognize their debt to the societies in which they work and their obligation to reciprocate with people studied in appropriate ways.

 

I understand that not everyone is an anthropologist, and probably thinks this does not pertain to them.  But here is the point, the whole point of this is to respect one another and avoid any potential harm that could be caused.  Lying, or only telling half the truth to someone with no regard of what they implications of what may happen is irresponsible and to put in layman’s terms, mean.  This goes for any scenario in life, your everyday interactions.

 

At what point did people lose their respect for another?  Was it for instant gratification?  Was your maliciousness really worth it?  In the study of psychology many horrible studies have been done to try and prove a point; abuse of animals, keeping people in rooms with no watches, I mean how far is far enough? Or is there no end?  Every action has a reaction, and when it comes to the well being of someone else the result is never really the expected result, and underlying damage that can be done insurmountable.

 

I hope you try and think that everything you do has a consequence and to remember that the other person is a human being like you and is not superfluous.

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